IDLO, South Sudan, & The Vatican

This past Friday I experienced my first day at IDLO. Appropriately situated on Viale Vaticano, its office borders the walls of the Vatican. My initial introduction was with the only other member working under the umbrella of the South Sudan program also stationed in the Rome office (as opposed to the Juba office). As it turns out, she is my age and has been working at IDLO for approximately a year. She then introduced me to nearly everyone working at IDLO’s headquarters, colloquially referred to as “HQ”. From what I can ascertain, the entire office is incredibly diverse and I will have ample opportunity to interact with people from all over the globe including Ireland, China, Spain, Italy, and South Sudan on a regular basis.

Later in the day I was introduced to my superior (via Skype) who is in Juba and only recently recovered from a bout of malaria. After giving me a brief overview of the assignments I will be working on, I was returned to my coworker who gave me a tour of the office, including my desk, which is located in a room occupied by three other interns working with various programs.

After completing the brief, and only, assignment I was given, I was sent home to enjoy the weekend and explore Rome—something I had been eager to do since my arrival.

Waking up early on Saturday, I took a running tour of the Prati (my neighborhood) and stumbled upon a covered market not three blocks from my apartment. I adore cooking and returned immediately in a state of culinary ecstasy at the chaos of booths and stations all pertaining to a particular specialty: fruits and vegetables, cheese, wine, spices, meat, seafood, bread, etc. and I was momentarily paralyzed by 1.) not knowing what I wanted to cook first, and 2.) realizing the difficult and somewhat humiliating exchanges I would have to endure to convey what I needed to each and every vendor. Although I can understand Italian (to a degree, depending on accent, enunciation, and sheer attentiveness on my part), anything I attempted to say was at best a crude amalgamation of English, Spanish, and very, very broken Italian. Thus, I was not surprised that among the food and other household accouterments I brought home was a potted rosemary plant, which, a day later, appears to require the horticultural equivalent of an ER.  Apparently the vender interpreted my request for “rosmarino fresco” quite literally.